Sep 30, 2013

world travel: Surfing in Miyazaki

Monday, September 30, 2013 Posted by Stephanie from Alohallo , No comments
Surfing is big part of our travel, we are trying to surf lots as possible. In Japan we surfed in Miyazaki. We really enjoyed surfing time there. We rented boards from shop surf3, people from surf3 are really nice - they borrowed us their towels (we forgot to bring our own towels). Our friend Natsuki Yokote, a female professional body boarder from Japan, is sponsored by surf3 .

We surfed at this spot twice. Once at afternoon and next day in the early morning before Natsuki heads to work. Its so blessed to surf during sunrise. One of most beautiful sunrise ever and it was our first proper sunrise seen in Japan. Waves were around 2-3 ft., not really big but fun!

Surfers and locals didn't show any bad attitudes, we felt comfortable to be with them. Waves were easy to catch and we didn't need to paddle lots from beach to spots. Thats really nice. One odd thing is jellyfishes! They 'bite' us, we could feel our skins being stung like bee but lots lighter than bee of course :) there are plenty waves (right and left!). Water isn't clear like in Hawaii but didn't bother us. Wish could see jellyfishes swam with us. To access to this beach you need car and there is a bathroom with shower facility (maybe more than one, didn't pay attention).

Sep 24, 2013

world travel: Japan (continued)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 Posted by Stephanie from Alohallo , No comments
6th Day: Miyazaki-Beppu

Our last day in Miyazaki, we went surfing again in the early morning. It was definitely one of most beautiful surfing mornings ever cos we could witness the real Japanese sunrise. It was almost really red like flags show! Incredibly beautiful, we enjoyed the sunrise lots and were ready for shredding. Waves were awesome like yesterday.

After surfing and it was enough bright like daytime, Ichikawa took us to Southern and showed us an Island and famous heads statues (like Easter Island Heads). Didn’t know there’re more statues in the world expect Easter Island. Landscape and coastal roads in Southern Japan are so beautiful, it’s really a holiday paradise :) saw some surf spots but at this day it wasn’t very surfable at those spots.

After return of our boards at surf shop, caught our train to Beppu, the floating/spa city. We had booked our room at a backpackers hostel in Beppu. Bonus of this hostel is they offer free spa. We could bath when we wanted :) it made us falling asleep at nights easily.

More about surfing and sunrise please see another post:

7th Day: Beppu

We rented bikes from Hostel for free, first thing of all we needed to wash our clothes at laundry. Really cheap and we may not to put any soap (for wash machine), really interesting and our clothes were fresh after wash! We cruised around Beppu city and visited Monkey Park. There’re a bunch of monkeys, we took a lot of pictures of them because they’re really interesting. They sleep, fight, eat, cuddle, play, clean, walk ... was so interesting to watch them.

We passed the oldest spa house in Beppu. Technically couldn’t gotta any public spa because of our tattoos but have read some spas allow people with tattoos. We decided to book a private spa at a hotel, top of building! When entered the spa room, we were exciting cos spa tube is outside and has an amazing view of ocean! Top and free. It costs $20, really not bad for a private spa! 

After spa, we wanted to eat real Shabu Shabu in Beppu cos this city is floating on hot spring. The pot of Shabu Shabu is cooking on coals with hot springs, pure natural and real one. We love Japan one of many reasons: there’re Happy Hours for drinking or eating. We could order Shabu Shabu’s meats how often we wanted for 1,5 hours included drink! Their meats and beers made us really happy and forgot time which we needed to return our bikes at 9pm. We were actually late like 10 minutes, the staff of hostel wasn’t really happy. We took bath again before bed time! 

8th Day: Beppu - Tokyo

It was officially our last day of RailPass and together before we are with our friends. The trip from Beppu to Tokyo took around 7 hours and we had to change trains twice. We saw the red sunrise in the morning again.

Dave joined our travel in Japan! We met him in Tokyo. Stephanie hasn’t seen him for one year. We visited Pokemon Center in Tokyo, we were little disappointed cos we thought it would be bigger and offer more than they offer. But we bought some stuffs! Stephanie got a cute cosmetic bag from Trey, we are using it as passports/documents bag.

In the evening we had dinner with our friends Akiko, Kaimi, Kiyo and their kids at a restaurant. We ate Tokyo’s okonomiyaki but we like Hiroshima’s lots better. We slept at Kiyo’s mom in Tokyo with Kaimi, Kiyo and kids. A real Japanese apartment in Tokyo for first time.

9th Day: Tokyo

We visited Shibuya Cross & Harajuku. It was kind of shopping day, we found some clothes and Trey a new Nike runners. Later in the evening friends left, we were alone and could enjoy shopping by ourselves more.

In that evening at 6pm we met Kuni’s childhood friend Shin at his work place, a Japanese restaurant which is really pure Japanese. When we arrived, we found out he had to work longer than expected. But another friend Erika, an actress in movie ‘Babel’, joined us.

We were little awkward with menu cos it was in Japanese only and we couldn’t read the price also. We decided to share a Sushi plate which was our first Sushi in Tokyo! We could say it was best Sushi one we had eaten! Rice is so delicious but fish (Ahi and Salmon) Hawaii has better :)

At that night it was little unplanned cos Erika & Shin wanted to show us the night life of Tokyo after his work (means after 11pm). It was actually late for us. We didn’t want to be rude to Kiyo and her mom for being late. Erika decided to took us to Shinjuku so we could see the night life for couple of hours.

Shinjuku is completely different than Shibuya! We saw a lot of Yakuzas, brothels, Love Hotels, Hostness Bars, Strip Clubs and many more. The real dark side of Tokyo, Trey was little overwhelmed by that place. We were really regret that we could stay more.

Erika is one of most funny and very girly we have met in our life. Wish could see her again, maybe someday!

10th Day: Tokyo

We went to see famous Temple, some see sightings. It was a kind of tourist day. We went to Shibuya again before we met friends for dinner. We had dinner with Japanese friends at a restaurant.

After dinner we wanted to see Tokyo from Top, we visited Ropping’s Hill Building. We witnessed Tokyo with full of lights at night, really beautiful. At that day we were lucky, we met a famous Sumo wrestler! He’s really big, bigger than thought!

11th Day: Tokyo - Nagoya - Okazaki City

Left Tokyo for Nagoya and Okazaki City where Kunihiro lives! We travelled to Nagoya by bus, every seats have own TV which included movies and games like an airplane! In Nagoya Kuni picked us up and headed to his hometown Okazaki City.

When arrived, we didn’t have much time cos we needed to return to Nagoya for Beer Festival. We took shower and were ready for night. In Nagoya at Beer Festival we could try different beers but we actually drank couple of beers because they were expensive.

Same we bought cheap drinks at 24hours shops (like 7eleven). We met Kuni’s friend Shingo and later Warren. We partied at Irish Pub and Shingo ordered lots of drinks. After leaving pub on way back to Okazaki City by train we could barely remember but it was an awesome party.

Sep 18, 2013

Sep 12, 2013

world travel: Japan

Thursday, September 12, 2013 Posted by Stephanie from Alohallo , No comments
have made diaries of the first five days in Japan - diaries of following days will come some day :) haven't written yet! But will promise! Enjoy reading it! And we really miss Japan so much!

1st Day: Narita-Tokyo

When landed in Tokyo, our first impressions are small zen-garden and bathroom in airport. Getting our rail passes wasn’t hard but getting to Tokyo was little confused but in train a japanese girl who can Finnish Sign Language asked us if she could help us. For Stephanie first impression in Japan is like being in Germany because of transport system and landscape (not roofs of houses & cars).

Getting to Shibuya wasn’t too hard, we found lockers easily. We could start walking after putting our backpackers in lockers. Heading to Shibuya Cross then Men’s 109 building where there’re a lot of stunning clothes for men. Trey tried to get a shirt but size was somehow smaller. After looking at clothes we went to game arcade one which has a lot of classic old school games. Trey played Street Fighter 2 and Stephanie played Super Mario. Interesting atmosphere but most of all what annoys us is smell of smoking. After that we tried to find a place for dinner ... somehow we got lost because there were countless stores. But we found a place for dinner, a floor with different kitchens together. At that time we felt like surreal. 

Same time we were pretty tired because of jet lag and decided to go to area where has love hotels. We found a lot of love hotels and tried to pick one. First of all we wanted to have WiFi but realized that we preferred to have room with unique design. We picked a hotel which provides rooms with ultra violent lights and a spa! Went to Shibuya station back for picking our things up then back to love hotel. 

Before love hotel we stopped by kiosk for getting Japanese beers which we shouldn’t miss on first night. Getting a room at love hotel wasn’t hard, we picked a room with Galaxy view on top wall and spa! Falling asleep was easy but in the late night we waked up often cos we thought we were going to miss trains which we gonna leave for Nara.

2nd Day: Tokyo-Nara-Tottori

We woke up on time and got to Tokyo Central Station on time. Trey had problem when he tried to get money at ATM (we researched a lot of foreigners got problem with Japanese ATM and got informations that said we should use ATMs at Post Offices which shouldn’t be a problem). 

Before reaching train for Nara, we called Mom and talked to her via FaceTime. In this morning we were pretty tired because of jet lag and less sleep. The train to Kyoto where we needed to change another train for Nara was awesome because of wide and comfy seats! We enjoyed watching cities and landscapes on trip to Kyoto lots. 

Understanding train systems in Japan is really easy and very similar to Europe even Japanese Languages. Luckily Japan uses Arabic numbers which are most important to us to understand and not get lost. Nara’s really a beautiful town with a lot of beautiful stores. We had our lunch at curry house which is much better than in Hawaii, we could select the level of spicy. Trey picked the third level (levels are: mild, regular, level 1, level 2 ... to 10), level 3 is really hot but Trey made it to finish his dish. 

After lunch walked to park and met a lot of cute deers. We could feed deers with ¥150 crackers which we could buy at park. Meeting deers is like in fairy but weren’t expecting how deers reacted. They do bow! Feeding and petting deers are one of most funny experiences we had! We felt like being in fairy tale with bunch of “Bambis”. Even some deers bite Trey cos they wanted more crackers. We touched antlers of deers and they’re so warm and silk! 

We also visited one of UNCESO places, beautiful place with spirits. We kinda spent too much time on petting deers and lost time for seeing other places. We had to return to train station for getting to Tottori. Before catching train we went to super market for getting foods, at super market we noticed Japanese people are kinda smaller than Stephanie. We bought some Ciders and drank them on way to Tottori. We enjoyed to see Japanese landscapes more. 

In Tottori we found an internet cafe which’s called as Mangakissa (an internet cafe with small rooms and a lot of Mangas). We got a small room for two persons with a computer. This room was really comfortable but the mattress’s pretty thin which hurt our bodies. Before sleep we had dinner at some restaurant which food was so delicious. Stephanie had Udon soup and Trey fried rice, very delicious. We wanted to order beers but problem was menu was in Japanese only. We wanted beers but we got cola with whiskey but we made it to drink our drinks! 

3rd Day: Tottori-Okoyama 

We took a bus which took us to sand dunes of Tottori. It was pretty hot in dunes and we were pretty tired to walk on sand but enjoyed the view of dunes and ocean. Sand were really hot and hurt our feet when walked barefoot. We were endless sweating, our clothes were wet. 

That place offers sandboard also, we decided to experience sandboard. It was too different than snowboard because sand is heavy than snow and makes slide more difficult. Two instructors of sandboard and a Japanese group were with us, one of instructor, an old man, was funny and tried to explain us everything. He is not like many Japanese who we met. Another instructor is a professional snowboarder and we watched him rode, really well. We were covered by sand full which was most annoying. 

After visiting Tottori we headed to Hiroshima but in Kurashiki where we should catch another train to Hiroshima. Bad luck, there was no train to Hiroshima anymore because there was a car accident. We tried to find out if there is a mangakissa in Kurashiki but were told there’s no mangakissa. We decided to gotta Okoyama which’s bigger than Kurashiki. 

When arrived in Okoyama, there were a bunch of people dressed in Japanese gown. We noticed there had to be a festival which was ended and people headed to home, it reminded Stephanie lots of Oktoberfest but in Bavarian traditional gown. Central station of Okoyama is more modern than other stations. 

We were trying to find mangakissa and asked a worker at a juice store. He was willing to help us to go to mangakissa which isn’t close to his workplace. It was one of examples of Japaneses for being too nice to us. Even he helped us to get a room at mangakissa. This mangakissa one looks cooler but rooms are less private and not so comfortable like in Tottori. We couldn’t access WiFi with our devices but still had internet at computer in our room. 

4th Day: Okoyama-Hiroshima-Miyajima-Hiroshima-Miyazaki

We caught the train to Hiroshima at 7:16 and the trip took one hour. In Hiroshima we left our backpacks at lockers and took local train to Miyajima where the famous Torii is. To get to Miyajima we needed to take ferry. When arrived in Miyajima we found there are bike rentals for ~ $3.50 for two hours! We rented bikes and rode on Miyajima island. 

On that island we met a lot of deers but they don’t bow. Torii and temple of Miyajima are incredibly beautiful and we could feel special spirit there. We cycled through park and other side of island. We found a river in park and refreshed our arms, faces and legs with fresh cold water, it felt alive big time! Back to Hiroshima we had famous okonomiyaki at lunch, it was special because woman was cooking our okonomiyaki in front of us like at Tanaka of Tokyo in Hawaii. 

After lunch we walked to Memorial Park and attended museum, a really sad place. We learned little more about nuclear weapons also. That place makes us sad and couldn’t understand how humans can do like that. 

In the evening we caught our train for Aoshima, it was a long trip. In late night we arrived in Aoshima. The station of Aoshima is pretty small and so dark. The town Aoshima seems so dead, we walked to our guesthouse. There were staffs outside and expected us. They were so friendly and guided us to our room, we totally fell in love with our room. It was best room ever we had, enough space for us and looks like a ryokan (Japanese pension). We took shower and fell asleep well.

5th Day: Miyazaki

We woke up happily and so satisfied because of best bed we had in Japan so far plus could finally sleep more than seven hours. We really loved our room at Miyazaki guesthouse Hooju, they provided free Green Tea and snacks. 

At 10 am a deaf Japanese Ichikawa picked us up and guided us to a place with beautiful view. There we ate ice creams, Trey had shrimp ice cream! Visited Aoshima Island, there’re beautiful rocks surrounded island and temple. Stephanie was so happy cos there’re countless shells but unfortunately didn’t have time for collecting shells, just collected few. At a temple on Aoshima Island we learned how to pray in right way. It was most beautiful temple so far seen in Japan. Luckily there was a wedding in Japanese tradition, we were impressed with their traditional wedding dresses. 

It was pretty hot and we were sweating nonstop. Atmosphere, buildings, plants and few things reminded Stephanie of Thailand lots. Miyazaki & Aoshima are completely different than mainland Japan. After seeing sights Tatsuhiko brought us to surf shop for renting boards. Our first time to surf in Japan, we surfed at a spot of Miyazaki’s beach, breaking points are pretty close to shores which we didn’t have to paddle lots compared to Hawaii. We all three surfed there for almost two hours and had really fun. Size of waves were ~2-3 ft. We could feel different atmosphere for being in water with other Japanese surfers. 

After surfing Tatsuhiko took us to Aya Teruha Suspension Bridge and Brewery Aya. Before leaving for those two places we had kind of miscommunication and couldn’t understand where we were heading to. From Miyazaki to Aya Teruha Suspensions Bridge was a long way and Tatsuhiko was almost lost the way to that famous bridge but we made it. Lucky we had 30 mins before bridge was closed. The bridge was really huge and very sway. But the forest are was very, very, very beautiful, it’s called Evengreen forest. 

After visiting bridge we visited Miyazaki’s famous brewery and got tasted beer, it tastes so good. We drove back to Miyazaki and met another friend Natsuki who hosted us at her house for one night. We went to a restaurant and enjoyed our meals of Miyazaki’s famous cuisines. We loved the foods really and enjoyed to eat while sitting on mattress in a room for ourselves. What we loved: about $8 unlimited beers or Japanese Plum wine for one hour! We needed to go home because we planned to go surfing in early morning on next day. Natsuki’s home is really big for Japanese and we felt so comfortable there. 

Aoshima Guesthouse Hooju: Website or Facebook